Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.
On March 4th, PUC students fasted for a day in response to the incredible devastation suffered in Honduras in the wake of the tremendous hurricane that hammered the country last year. Their project, entitled "Let-it-Growl," set out to raise money for the hurricane victims. However, for many it helped to create an awareness of this disaster, as well as to establish the role of Christians as active ministers in a world of suffering.
When hurricane Mitch hit the Central American country of Honduras last November, the death toll reached into the thousands and is growing every day as the waters recede and more bodies are discovered. Homes, neighborhoods, and entire cities were destroyed in the hurricane's floods and mudslides. Seventy percent of the nation's agricultural sector was destroyed by water, as well as seventy percent of its roads, bridges, and water supplies. Millions have been left without food, water, shelter, or medical resources, and the problem is only exacerbated by the fact that Honduras' major population centers are cut off from both Pacific and Caribbean ports. Many regions are still only accessible by air.
Against such a backdrop of devastation, PUC students began to search for some way to join those around the world sending help to Honduras. After much brainstorming, Janis Chang, the student association's president, with the help of Rita Hoshino, assistant dean of students, struck upon "Let-it-Growl," an opportunity for even the most financially-strapped students to contribute.
For 24 hours, 75 students went without food, while faculty members and their fellow students sponsored their fast. They wore bracelets around the campus that identified them as fasters. The bracelets also won them access to drinks that were donated by the Dining Commons. So with juice and encouragement, the campus sustained the hungry students through the rigors of their school day. The fast concluded with a special song service in the school's fireside room and a lesson that tied their period of physical hunger with the spiritual hunger described in scriptures. More than $1,760 was raised to help the millions of hurricane victims.
Although the need is vast in Honduras, Hoshino believes that everyone's effort makes a difference. "Our little money that we raised is a drop in the bucket for Honduras," she said, "but if everybody is putting drops in the bucket, eventually it will get full."
Hoshino also points out the value of the experience for the students involved. "When we're up here on this hill, we tend to focus in on ourselves. "Let-it-Growl" reminds us that we're part of a larger world and that we have an obligation as a part of a Christian community to reach out to that larger world."
Janis Chang also valued the experience. "We're so focused on our material things," she said, "but there is a lot that we can give up. When we look outside of ourselves, our problems and our worries go away."
Those who endured the day-and had raised more than $20 dollars-received a "Let-it Growl" T-shirt to commemorate the occasion. The shirts were decorated with the names of other sponsors of the program, such as Howell Mountain Enterprises, the Hemmerlin family, the PUC Church, and PUC's Public Relations office. The money raised by "Let-it-Growl" will go directly to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Honduras to help buy food, clothing, and building supplies. The awareness raised will remain with the students for life.
According to Janis Chang, "It's only a day of fasting, and people over there have to go through months and months with very little. We have to appreciate the things we have."
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness," the scriptures say, "for they shall be filled."